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The Best Camping Generator (and the One to Avoid Like Hell)

Does your idea of camping involve getting away from civilization and into nature? Well, those picturesque views and solitude often don’t have electric hookups conveniently located. You may need a camping generator.

Generators can run on propane or fuel (diesel or gas). They supply power to run most, if not all, of your camping amenities that you would typically run off shore power.

What you can run and for how long depends on your power draw, how big of a generator you have, and how much fuel you can carry.

What should you consider when buying a generator?

The first consideration is the size/power of the generator. What do you need to run?

If you just need to run a few lights and recharge your cell phone, you can get by with a small generator and only run it for a short time.

Mid-range generators can run a fridge, lights, maybe a microwave or hairdryer and recharge your gadgets.

Large generators can run an entire rig including an air conditioner, which is usually the biggest power hog of all.

In order to decide what size you need, add up everything you MUST use at the same time, find the energy requirements, and go from there.

Here we are going to review the 2000 watt size generators, which is the mid-size and common for many RVers. Some of these can be “paralleled” or hooked onto another unit to double your energy while still keeping a convenient size.

Is a Camping Generator Too Loud?

Another consideration is noise. Not all generators are created the same.

Many campgrounds and national parks have quiet hours, which only allow generators to be used for a few hours morning and night. Most boondocking locations don’t have rules per se, but it is considered bad camping etiquette to run noisy generators close to neighbors or in quiet wilderness areas.

Enclosed generators and inverter style generators are quieter than open frame models.

Other Camping Generator Considerations?

Moving a generator or hauling it on your rig means size is a consideration. Safety-wise, you need to keep the generator away from the rig to avoid carbon monoxide going into the camper, and depending if you are hauling it on the rig or in the bed of a truck, size and weight come into play on what generator will best suit your needs.

Even within the same power category, weight can vary by quite a bit.

The Best Camping Generators of 2020

Decent: Wen 56200

The Wen 56200 generator is a 2000 watt inverter generator (running 1600 watts)  that is 18”x11”x18” and weighs 50 pounds.

The noise level is 53dB. Being an inverter, the power is cleaner and is better for electronics and other sensitive items as it cuts down on fluctuations in power.

It has two 3-prong 120V outlets, one 12V DC outlet, and one 5V USB outlet. The Wen can hold 1 gallon of fuel, which will run about 9.4 hours on a quarter load. It is easy to carry with a smooth outer case and an integrated carrying handle.

See Price for Wen Generator

Better: Craftsman 2500

The Craftsman 2500 is 22.6” x 12.61” x 18.5”and weighs 47 pounds, and is also an inverter style generator with 2000 watts of power.

It runs at least 6.5 hours on 50% load, with capacity for one gallon of gasoline. Outlets include two 120V AC grounded outlets, and one dc-12v two Pin outlet. The reviews mention this unit is very quiet!

This unit is a little less sleek, but is also somewhat easy to carry.

See Price for Craftsman 2500 Generator

Best: Honda EU2200

The Honda EU2200i is also a 2200 watt inverter generator, so this one adds 10% power to the previous units. This option is 16” x 20” x 11”, so it is quite a bit smaller than the previous generators, and only weighs 40 pounds.

With two 120V AC outlets and one 12V outlet, the Honda has plug options! Honda brand generators are also known for being extremely quiet, only running 48-57 dB. On one tank of fuel, the Honda can run for 4-9.6 hours depending on load.

This generator has the Honda name behind it, as well as adding additional power and run time with a quieter motor and less weight.

See Price for Honda EU2200 Generator

Avoid Like Hell: Any Non-Inverter Style Generator

We’re talking about the generators you see at construction sites. These are way too loud for camping. They are also heavy and bulky.

Please don’t take a construction generator on your camping trip!

Energize Your Camping Experience

If you are going to camp off-grid, do some extreme tailgating, or want to be prepared for any adventure, look into adding a generator to your RV setup.

Taking control of your own power is the next step to ensure you can enjoy the best view while still having your amenities!

We use the Honda 22000. With a few mods, we’re able to easily run our RV air conditioner.

Best of all, it lets us explore the best free camping spots in America!

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  1. Bob says:

    I didn’t even think about the cheaper ones. Went right for the Honda 2200.

  2. Freddie Stanleta says:

    Hi Kyle and Olivia, I run two Predator 2000 inverter generators, and with the coupler have ample power for all my needs. Unless I am running my heaters (I’m totally electric), or my oven, I only need to run one at a time. I run unit A from 9am to 9pm, and unit B from 9pm to 9am. I run them on econo mode and use about 2gal of gas per 24hr. Every Saturday morning I change the oil in both units, in order to keep them in good condition, and to maintain my warranty. Each of my units will run for 13.5hrs per tank of gas (1.25gal). They are quiet and efficient. If at any time one has failed, I am able to exchange it, no questions asked, for a new replacement (annual warranty about $70).


    I was at the NASCAR race at Martinsville and I was amazed at how quiet the Predator 3500 watt generators were. I saw more Predators than anything else. All of them were so quiet you hardly knew they were running. Most had 2 running parallel, whether 2000W or larger.

  4. Gary says:

    Something to be aware of is to expect to lose quite a bit of power when camping at altitude. My 1800/2300 watt Ryobi inverter generator overloads just trying to power our 1500 watt microwave, or a hair dryer on high, when we’re camping at 7000 feet or higher out west. Had it checked out under warranty and the service center said it was operating normally at spec. I believe the Hondas have an altitude kit to deal with this but that you’re supposed to uninstall it fir operating back diwn at lower altitudes, so didn’t sound practical to me.

  5. Charles says:

    We run a 4500 watt Onan… during the day to operate our AC units and microwave. It is an on board unit it is very loud and shakes the trailer.. but in the evenings we use a 2500 watt Ryobi inverter with a remote kill

  6. Napaguy07 says:

    Hey guys, really enjoy your info. When we are in Quartzite camping, we have 02 Yamaha 2000iā€™s. They are really quiet, can usually only use one for most of the day. Run them together if we need extra power. Have had them for about 03 years, still running strong. Keep oil changed and tuned up. Love your blog, keep up the good work

  7. Anonymous says:

    I have been running the Predator 3500 from Harbor Freight for
    6 years, extremely quiet, run my RV AC, very reliable never had a problem, just do your pm.

  8. Ross says:

    Hi all, I have been using my Honda 2200 to charge batterys and run ac that I installed a soft start kit in. Any experienced comments about using propane to fuel the Honda?

  9. Mark Hughes says:

    My Harbor Freight Predator 3500 was a great value and has given me hours of reliable service. It is quiet and allows me to run my AC in the RV no problem.

  10. Steve Felt says:

    I started with the Honda EU2200 but it kept shutting off whenever I turned on the AC so I returned it and got the Predator 3500 from Harbor Freight on sale for $800 and its been running perfectly for 16 months. Its very quiet and burns about 2 gallons in 10-12 hours. I keep it in my truck bed but I want to move it outside the back of my camper.

  11. Dina says:

    Hi Kyle and Olivia,

    We need your advice if you can.

    We’ve booked an RV for a few days as part of a trip to YellowStone, two weeks from now.

    Unfortunately, the RV’s owner informed us that there is a problem with his generator and he is not sure it will be fixed until we arrive.

    W’ere coming from abroad to the US and less likely we will buy a generator.

    Is there a way to rent a generator for a few days? Is that even possible?



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